NADRA is set to deploy Biometric Verification System for sale of new SIMs, said a statement issued by National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA).
Statement said that NADRA has prepared Biometric Verification System for Telecom operators, all preparations for Biometric Verification Systems have been carried out and NADRA is ready for launch from 28th February, 2013.
In this regard, NADRA has demonstrated its services and applications to Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and Cellular Mobile Operators including representatives of Mobilink, Telenor, Ufone, Warid and Zong.
Proof of concept has been carried out with some telecom operators and a draft contract has already been forwarded containing minute details of operations.
NADRA has proposed flexible architecture to telecom industry with its recommendations on basis of security and performance.
NADRA has requested Telecom operators to finalize contract and deployment plans so that target date of 28th February, 2013 is achieved amicably.
Teleom industry had previously shown concerns regarding the deployment of biometric verification system.
Cellular companies are of the view that each mobile phone company will have to invest at least Rs. 500 million (or Rs. 2.5 billion in total) to deploy biometric solution, that too for just their service centres, franchises and 10,000 retail outlets, as compared to 200,000 retail outlets that were previously operational.
All this investment is likely to go into NADRA’s pockets as evidently they are going to deploy the solution for telcos, despite, there are other solutions available in the market which claim to be cheaper (in terms of price) than the one quoted by NADRA.
There are voices which suggest that deployment of new system for sale of new SIMs is just designed to benefit NADRA.
The new verification system will require each citizen to approach retailer, franchisee or Customer Service Centers of Cellular Operators personally and provide his/her fingerprints for authentication against CNIC data held with NADRA. On successful transaction, SIM will be activated. All this operation will be performed online and will take 15 seconds end to end.
Moreover, security related segments believe that such measures will help Government of Pakistan to curb use of illegally issued SIMs for terrorism, extortion and street crimes. Pakistan has significantly high cellular density in the country.
Although, it has changed the dynamics of communication means, yet their misuse has created security risk. Prior to Biometric Verification Services, methods adopted to regulate SIM issuance were prone to frauds. Now, with fingerprint matching facility, it is expected that same will bring authenticity and will reduce the risk of SIM issuance against fake identity to almost zero.